The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

Excerpt

The only word that occurs to me to describe this famous old book is one that is distinctly unfashionable; it is long since I have seen the adjective in current print. The word is droll; not droll in the Balzacian sense, but in the suggestion of odd humor, unexpected and kindly, covertly facetious, mischievously wise. You will find yourself, after reading, unconsciously echoing or imitating the Persian manner of florid imagery. Let us say, then, that the reader's path will be strewn with sugar candy. And I could wish for everyone (Mashallah!) the same way of reading it that fell to me. For this, until lately, was one of those innumerable classics which one has heard praised since boyhood, but never read. I knew by hearsay that it was inspired by the even more famous Gil Blas; but except for some long-ago textbook extracts I hadn't read that either.

It was my good fortune, in the summer just past, to spend two months in a bungalow above Lake Champlain. During that time I was devoted, with as nearly complete concentration as this world allows its bedevilled citizens, to finishing a job of work. The whole situation was as unlikely as possible: to begin with, no matter how absurd it may sound, my conscious thought was actually engrossed upon the Siege of Troy, which happened about 3,000 years ago; and in my imagination the dulcet waters of that narrow lake became the fretted Hellespont; the fields of rocks and berries and the pineglade behind us were the slopes of Mount Ida, For the first . . .

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